Yes, in fact, poaching is getting worse and worse as time goes by; especially in South Africa. Rhinos are getting killed more and more often. In 2009, the amount of Rhinos killed was about half of the total this year, meaning that poaching has doubled.
There has indeed been a recent upsurge in poaching of rhinoceros in South Africa, generally by poachers using newer high-tech methods than traditional poachers. According to a staff member of Save the Rhino International, “We are facing an entirely new type of threat. Where we once had to deal with poachers wearing flip flops and using a home-made snare, we are now faced with criminal gangs deploying GPS devices, night vision equipment and foot soldiers to track rhinos for days.” It has been estimated that if the current rate of rhinoceros poaching continues, the death rate will exceed the population’s natural growth rate within 2 years.
The majority of the rhinos are being killed for their valuable horns, which currently command a price of 45,000 British pounds per kilogram, and are mainly sold to markets in Asia and the Middle East. These markets are based on the belief that the rhino horn possesses medicinal powers. This international demand has led the World Wildlife Federation to advocate for law enforcement in Asian consumer countries alongside increased protection efforts in South Africa.
Just to underscore the significance of the increase in rhino poaching, 333 rhinos were killed illegally in 2010 in South Africa alone. The toll is the highest in the country’s history and is actually triple the number killed in 2009.
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